Meet Hanako, Japan's Oldest Elephant

To Japan now, where an international effort is underway to help improve quality of life for the country's oldest elephant. The 69-year-old female named Hanako has spent almost all of her life in captivity at the Tokyo Zoo.

An animal rights activist criticized Hanako's conditions in a blog post after visiting the zoo. The posting sparked an online petition, garnering more than 400,000 signatures. The "Help Hanako" campaign proposes moving Hanako to a sanctuary in Thailand or having her current surroundings improved.

The zoo's deputy director says Hanako is being well-cared for and that a move is unfeasible. He says Hanako's solo confinement is for safety reasons, but the zoo has agreed to meet with the activist who made the initial blog post.

Instructional Links

Online Game: San Diego Zoo, Elephant Odyssey http://www.elephantodyssey.com/game

Website Article: BBC Nature Wildlife, Asian Elephant http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Asian_Elephant

Website Article: Thai Elephant Conservation Center, Thailand's Elephants http://www.thailandelephant.org/en/thaielephant.html

Website Article: National Geographic, Zoo http://education.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/zoo/

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